Concussion Testing Pilots Kick Off Fall
August 4, 2015
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The Michigan High School Athletic Association kicked off the 2015-16 school year Monday by hosting 70 member high schools for training in two pilot sideline concussion testing programs aimed at assisting in decision-making regarding the removal of athletes from activity after possible concussion events and record-keeping of those events beginning this fall.
Illinois-based King-Devick Test and Maryland-based XLNTbrain Sport each will be used to monitor approximately 10,000 Michigan high school student-athletes drawn from schools representing all four classes and a variety of regions statewide.
The pilot programs are part of a three-pronged advance by the MHSAA in concussion care this fall. In addition to becoming the first state association to offer pilot sideline concussion testing, the MHSAA will be the first to mandate record-keeping by member schools of all possible concussion events from detection to an athlete’s return to play. The requirement applies to both practices and events, all levels of all sports in grades 7 through 12.
The MHSAA also this fall is the first state association to provide all participants at every MHSAA member high school and junior high/middle school with insurance intended to pay accident medical expense benefits – covering deductibles and co-pays left unpaid by other policies – resulting from concussions sustained during MHSAA practices or competitions. There is no cost to either schools or families.
“These pilot programs are intended to not only improve what’s actually happening on the sidelines at practices and contests in these communities that are part of the pilot programs, they’re intended to spread the word of the need for improved concussion detection across every community,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said. “We hope these schools involved will become involved in their leagues and conferences and with their peers across the state as we expand the awareness of the need for better sideline detection and provide ways to get it done.”
The MHSAA asked schools at the end of this spring to volunteer for the pilot programs and then selected participants in order to guarantee a variety of schools based on enrollment and location. Schools are committed to involving at least two sports for each gender each season.
Schools participating in the XLNTbrain Sport pilot program are: Adrian, Adrian Madison, AuGres-Sims, Bay City Central, Bear Lake, Brethren, Belding, Birmingham Groves, Brighton, Chesaning, Corunna, Detroit Collegiate Prep, East Kentwood, Fennville, Fowlerville, Gibraltar Carlson, Grand Rapids Christian, Grandville, Greenville, Grosse Ile, Hamilton, Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse, Hazel Park, Kalamazoo Christian, Lansing Christian, Macomb L’Anse Creuse North, Owosso, Pewamo-Westphalia, Portland, Reese, Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest, St. Clair Shores Lakeview, St. Johns, Stanton Central Montcalm, Vermontville Maple Valley, West Bloomfield and Wyoming Kelloggsville.
Schools participating in the King-Devick Test pilot are: Bay City Western, Benton Harbor, Buchanan, Calumet, Caro, Caseville, Detroit Cody, Detroit Martin Luther King, Fenton, Flint Kearsley, Frankenmuth, Fruitport, Garden City, Grand Ledge, Grand Rapids Northview, Lake Leelanau St. Mary, Lake Linden-Hubbell, Lincoln Alcona, Midland Bullock Creek, Montague, Muskegon, Niles, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Romeo, Saginaw Heritage, Scottville Mason County Central, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Joseph, Tawas, Vicksburg, Whitehall and Yale.
The King-Devick Test is a rapid eye movement screening evaluation that requires athletes to read single-digit numbers displayed on a tablet computer in order to detect impairments of eye movement, attention, language, concentration and other symptoms of abnormal brain function. The test has been validated in more than 50 recent peer reviewed articles published in elite medical journals and is associated with the Mayo Clinic.
The test is administered on the sidelines during evaluations for suspected head injuries, and the post-injury results are then compared to an athlete’s preseason baseline. Any worsening of performance (increased time and/or errors) suggests a concussion has occurred and the athlete should be “removed from play” for further evaluation.
“The first and most critical step in managing concussion in the youth athlete is to recognize when one has occurred – not always a simple task,” said Dr. David Dodick, professor of neurology and director of sports concussion services at the Mayo Clinic. “The King-Devick test helps take the guesswork and subjectivity out of the sideline evaluation in a rapid, accurate, and objective way.”
XLNTbrain Sport includes balance and web-based neuro-cognitive tests also used before the start of a season to create a baseline measurement of reaction time, attention, inhibition, impulsivity, memory, information processing efficiency and executive function. The test also assesses mood, anxiety, stress and emotionality.
After a possible head injury, a sideline assessment is done using a smartphone or tablet with those results then compared with the athlete’s baseline measurements. The program documents the severity of a concussion, provides a guide for on-the-field decision making regarding treatment and recovery time and can report results via email to parents, coaches, training staff and medical professionals.
Dr. Harry Kerasidis, who designed the XLNTbrain Sport software, presented at the Coalition for Concussion Treatment Summit at the United Nations building in 2014.
“We included an objective balance test that relies on smartphone accelerometer technology which is effective in the field during practice and game situations,” Kerasidis said. “Should a concussion injury be suspected, the system automatically generates a notification to parents and medical professionals and creates a recovery protocol and post-injury tracking so the right people can monitor the athlete’s progress. Then, the system assists medical professionals with the all-important return-to-learn and return-to-play clearance.”
Click for information on XLNTbrain Sport. Click for information on the King-Devick Test.
For more on Health & Safety, including preseason physical examination, hydration and cardiovascular resources in addition to concussion information and online training sessions, visit the MHSAA’s redesigned Health & Safety web page.
PHOTOS: (Top) Saginaw Heritage athletic director Peter Ryan (right) is administered the King-Devick baseline test by K-D's Samantha Figueroa. (Middle) XLNTbrain Sport creater Dr. Harry Kerasidis provides insight on his program to those being trained to use it Monday.
2023 Forsythe Award Celebrates Leinaar's 40 Years Dedicated to School Sports
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 8, 2023
Few people in Michigan have had a longer-lasting influence on the rules and policies of educational athletics than Frankfort’s Karen Leinaar, who has served in several roles locally, statewide and nationally over more than 40 years contributing to the school sports community.
Thank you, Bill Baker.
The longtime teacher, coach, principal and superintendent during a career that stretched across multiple schools – including Leinaar’s growing up, Delton Kellogg – made an impression on the standout multi-sport athlete before she graduated from high school in 1977. Baker’s philosophy and work led Leinaar to study education at Michigan State University and then brought her back as Delton’s athletic director to begin four decades of making the same impact on children in her hometown and eventually in hometowns all over Michigan and beyond.
Baker died in 2009, but not before continuing to mentor Leinaar through many good times and tough ones.
“The man had two daughters that I grew up with, his wife was a teacher, and he demonstrated to all of us – he never missed an event – that we were important to him. That even though we weren’t his kids, we were his kids and athletics was a way to help kids become better people – and for some kids it was the only thing that they had positive in their life,” Leinaar said. “And he made it known just to that individual kid how important their participation was and their involvement, and how that helped them become the person that they were.
“That to me was such an example of how to help people be good people, that I just took that role on.”
It’s a role in which she continues to serve. Leinaar began her career as an athletic administrator in 1982, and as the interim athletic director currently at Frankfort High School is serving her fifth district in that position. Since June 2019, she also has served as executive director of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA), the professional organization for school sports administrators in the state with a membership of nearly 700.
To recognize that longtime and continuing impact, Leinaar has been named the 2023 honoree for the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Charles E. Forsythe Award.
The annual award is in its 46th year and named after former MHSAA Executive Director Charles E. Forsythe, the Association's first full-time and longest-serving chief executive. Forsythe Award recipients are selected each year by the MHSAA Representative Council, based on an individual's outstanding contributions to the interscholastic athletics community.
Leinaar also served 22 years on the MHSAA’s Representative Council and a four-year term from 2009-13 on the Board of Directors for the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and just last week was named to the 2023 class of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) Hall of Fame.
“It is impossible even to estimate the number of students, coaches, administrators and others who have been affected by the work Karen Leinaar has done to make school sports the best they can be – not only in her communities, but across Michigan and throughout the country,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “There are few who have equaled her dedication and her support and promotion of the ideals of school-based sports. She has always placed an emphasis on being in the room, on the field or at the arena, actively participating in her leadership roles, and our programs are better for it.”
Leinaar first served as athletic director at Delton Kellogg for nearly 17 years, from March 1982 through October 1998. She spent three years at Gaylord, then 8½ at Benzie Central before taking over at Bear Lake in November 2010 and spending the next decade organizing athletic programs for students in grades 5-12 before retiring in January 2021. She came out of retirement to return to the athletic director’s chair this past fall as interim AD at Frankfort. She has completed nearly four years as MIAAA executive director, moving into that position after previously serving nine years as an assistant to the executive.
Leinaar began her service on the Representative Council in Fall 1999 and completed her last term as a statewide at-large representative at the Fall 2021 meeting.
She has been honored several times for her contributions. She received the MHSAA’s Women In Sports Leadership Award in 1998, a Citation from the NFHS in 2000, and she was named MIAAA Athletic Director of the Year in 2001. She received an MHSAA’s Allen W. Bush Award in 2014 – recognition given for work done generally behind the scenes and with little attention.
“This is the top of the mountain, per se. This one does mean so much,” Leinaar said of the Forsythe Award. “The names that are associated with this over the years, I never thought I’d be put in that group.”
Leinaar remains a continuous source of support at a multitude of MHSAA championship events, and during her time on Council was one of the most frequent representatives handing out trophies and medals to champions and runners-up at Finals events. She began while athletic director at Delton Kellogg hosting the MHSAA Volleyball Finals in Class B and Class C and continues to assist with those championships now played at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.
She also hosted Competitive Cheer Finals at Delton Kellogg in 1996 and 1997, Ski Finals while at Gaylord, and many more championship events across the Lower Peninsula. She continues to assist at the MHSAA’s Lower Peninsula Cross Country and Track & Field Finals.
After attending Delton Kellogg High School, Leinaar earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education, health and recreation, with a minor in driver education, from MSU in 1982. She completed a master’s in athletic administration from Western Michigan University in 1994.
Leinaar has been a member for 40 years of both the MIAAA and NIAAA, and has served as chairperson of the MIAAA Annual Conference and awards chairperson for both the state and national bodies. She’s also served as chairperson of the MIAAA’s Exemplary Athletic Program.
Past recipients of the Charles E. Forsythe Award
1978 - Brick Fowler, Port Huron; Paul Smarks, Warren
1979 - Earl Messner, Reed City; Howard Beatty, Saginaw
1980 - Max Carey, Freesoil
1981 - Steven Sluka, Grand Haven; Samuel Madden, Detroit
1982 - Ernest Buckholz, Mt. Clemens; T. Arthur Treloar, Petoskey
1983 - Leroy Dues, Detroit; Richard Maher, Sturgis
1984 - William Hart, Marquette; Donald Stamats, Caro
1985 - John Cotton, Farmington; Robert James, Warren
1986 - William Robinson, Detroit; Irving Soderland, Norway
1987 - Jack Streidl, Plainwell; Wayne Hellenga, Decatur
1988 - Jack Johnson, Dearborn; Alan Williams, North Adams
1989 - Walter Bazylewicz, Berkley; Dennis Kiley, Jackson
1990 - Webster Morrison, Pickford; Herbert Quade, Benton Harbor
1991 - Clifford Buckmaster, Petoskey; Donald Domke, Northville
1992 - William Maskill, Kalamazoo; Thomas G. McShannock, Muskegon
1993 - Roy A. Allen Jr., Detroit; John Duncan, Cedarville
1994 - Kermit Ambrose, Royal Oak
1995 - Bob Perry, Lowell
1996 - Charles H. Jones, Royal Oak
1997 - Michael A. Foster, Richland; Robert G. Grimes, Battle Creek
1998 - Lofton C. Greene, River Rouge; Joseph J. Todey, Essexville
1999 - Bernie Larson, Battle Creek
2000 - Blake Hagman, Kalamazoo; Jerry Cvengros, Escanaba
2001 - Norm Johnson, Bangor; George Lovich, Canton
2002 - John Fundukian, Novi
2003 - Ken Semelsberger, Port Huron
2004 - Marco Marcet, Frankenmuth
2005 - Jim Feldkamp, Troy
2006 - Dan McShannock, Midland; Dail Prucka, Monroe
2007 - Keith Eldred, Williamston; Tom Hickman, Spring Lake
2008 - Jamie Gent, Haslett; William Newkirk, Sanford Meridian
2009 - Paul Ellinger, Cheboygan
2010 - Rudy Godefroidt, Hemlock; Mike Boyd, Waterford
2011 - Eric C. Federico, Trenton
2012 - Bill Mick, Midland
2013 - Jim Gilmore, Tecumseh; Dave Hutton, Grandville
2014 - Dan Flynn, Escanaba
2015 - Hugh Matson, Saginaw
2016 - Gary Hice, Petoskey; Gina Mazzolini, Lansing
2017 - Chuck Nurek, Rochester Hills
2018 - Gary Ellis, Allegan
2019 - Jim Derocher, Negaunee; Fredrick J. Smith, Stevensville
2020 - Michael Garvey, Lawton
2021 - Leroy Hackley Jr., Byron Center; Patti Tibaldi, Traverse City
2022 - Bruce Horsch, Houghton
PHOTOS (Top) Karen Leinaar, left, awards the 2022 Division 4 volleyball finalist trophy to Indian River Inland Lakes coach Nicole Moore. (Middle) Leinaar accepts the MHSAA's Women In Sports Leadership Award in 1998.